What’ve you got up top?

The roofs of motorhomes are a thing of some speculation

Motorhomes cruise through these valleys, and we’ve got quite a few of them that are ‘native’ to these parts as well. Indeed, I’ve just been kitting Harry Hymer out in preparation for our little jaunt to the seaside in early August.

Not that anybody ever asks what we actually carry on the roof, but in a conversation this morning I was struck that the concept of solar panels powering motorhome habitations was a novel idea to my interlocutor. So I thought I’d contribute an image of our roof, to the diary today, in the interest of public consciousness, of course. And also because I’m delighted with my solar panel installation, and have to brag just a little.

It makes sense, doesn’t it, to populate the otherwise blank canvas of a 10 square meter area, with something useful. And if it can be something as useful as producing electricity to power all the devices most folks carry along with them, so much the better. Harry Hymer came to us with just the one solar panel, but I added another about this time last year, along with an increased battery capacity. I figured the ‘original’ panel would power the first leisure battery, while the new one would suffice for the second. It didn’t work out quite that way, as we hit the electrical buffers on our return journey in misty northern France. Obviously we can’t control the sunshine, but we can make sure that our panels are sufficient for their purpose, and besides, there was additional roof space just waiting for occupation.

I reasoned that more solar panels would catch more of the sun’s rays that might be available, better than just the first two. During the installation of a much better new charge controller, in preparation for the new panel work, I made a shocking discovery! You could say it was an electrically shocking matter, but in fact it was the discovery that in times of shade, without a proper one-way electrical valve, electrical capacity can leak back from the battery out through the solar panel, dissipating all the earlier collection of energy! So a non-return diode or two was also top of my list for reconfiguration. I’m beginning to learn that taking care of an ageing motorhome can facilitate one’s learning in a variety of interesting subjects!

The charge controller comes with a handy meter, to let me gauge the amount of current coming into the battery at any given time. Although the battery is fully charged, I could clock that from the first solar panel I’d installed, some 1.9amps were coming in, while now in the first few minutes with the next two panels installed, some 5.9amps are attempting to re-power the system. So it seems that everything is hooked up okay, anyway. Now for a big drain: a wonderful cooking/baking solution that takes only some 400-500 watts of power, and therefore is perfect for reasonably self-sufficient motorhomes in situations where an electrical hook-up is not possible.

If the sun shines brightly tomorrow then, I’ll crank up the little Remoska cooker (a Czech invention which looks like it came out of the ’50s, along with electric frying pans, remember them?) after plugging it into the large inverter that’s connected into the battery array, and monitor what current the battery will ask for as it seeks to replenish itself by demanding more from the charge controller.

In fact, this little cooker can bake the most delicious bread as well! And all with only a minimum of energy consumption; perfect for the road ahead!

Meanwhile, relative to the first photograph of this entry, folks may wonder why on earth we should put the Reg Number up on top of old Harry Hymer. It’s just one of those little safety devices, chatted about on the various facebook groups beloved of motorhome owners, which can help identify the motorhome from the air, of course, in the event that it’s stolen. Coupled with a tiny GPS tracker, these devices could mean the difference between losing your beloved home-on-the-road, and not!

And that’s what we’ve got up on top of our motorhome. I can’t speak for any others that might trundle through these valleys, but I’d be surprised if they were too much different from ours.

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